Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 11.djvu/625

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THE LABOR-QUESTION.

beer, whiskey, etc.? How many, instead of selecting plain, wholesome, cheap food, spend their extra dollars on pastry, rare fruits and vegetables, etc.? The business done in this line by the grocers and bakers of the lower wards of New York will answer this. I have eaten at the tables of rich and poor in many States, and my experience teaches me that, as a rule, the well-to-do mechanic lives better than many merchants, bankers, and professional men, as long as his wages hold out. The same prodigality is manifested in dress and ornament. They will make any sacrifice to ape the rich or vie with each other. Servant-girls often dress better than their mistresses. Who will calculate the dollars wasted by that mechanic's family, before sickness or accident drove him to the poor-house? How much did he throw away on rent, that he might live in a better house than he was well able to afford? How many dollars were spent on theatres, balls, sociables, fairs, or excursions, that might have been saved? How much did superstition extort from him? These are a few of the many avenues through which his hard-earned wages escaped. Add to these the physician's bills, for attending to himself and family when overwork and uncleanliness brought on sickness; and, last though not least, consider the number of mouths he is himself the cause of having-to till, and the number of backs to clothe. If his income had overbalanced this expenditure, when the crisis arrived he would have been safe. With how many of our present paupers and tramps was this the case? Are the careful to be forced to bear the load of the careless? Self-restraint is more important to the poor man than legislation. This will give him a fitness for the battle of life, while that but unmans and effeminates him.

Again, are these men now out of employment the best types of laborers or mechanics, and the most trusty and efficient servants their employers had? Are they the honest, careful, thoughtful working-men who labored most earnestly for their employers' interests? Are those who have been retained the stupid and dishonest?—the unprofitable servants? Are they—but why proceed? The case is only too clear against the unemployed, as a class. Of course, there are exceptions. Unavoidable circumstances have doubtless thrown adrift the worthy. When a crisis comes, employers will retain those who have labored most faithfully and honestly for their interest. All others must lose employment. The improvident at once become paupers, demanding a living from their already heavily-burdened but careful fellow-workmen. If, during the age of muscle, lazy, puny men with diseased bodies, brought on by excess and vice, had demanded of the stalwart and vigorous that they must carry them on their backs, even though at their own peril, what could have been thought of them?

An array of unemployed men is clamoring for work, and the sympathetic urge their claims, "Fate is dealing hard with them," say